Today, after many months of being out on a grey and brown limb, I rejoined the sisterhood and did what many women do on a Saturday morning – left my husband in the care of the children and went to have my hair highlighted. Now I really am from blonde people. The last time I was at the hair salon was July last year, and since then I have been experimenting with how I feel allowing my natural
honey dark blonde mouse to grow through, touched up as it is with wings of platinum grey. And the answer is, friends and feminists, not good. I have been feeling steadily more and more frumpish. It doesn’t help that it’s winter, that the world is coloured sludge and the coat which I wear on a daily basis is olive green. Not even my purple sparkly beanie and my various purple scarves have helped. I needed colour and I needed it badly.
Part of the problem is that although I’ve been back in Germany for nearly four years, I’ve struggled to find a hairdresser I like. Some can colour, some can cut and some can blow-dry but rare is the hair-beast who can do all three well. I was loyal to one salon in town that cut and coloured my hair beautifully but I always left with Shirley Temple curls that had been gelled and sprayed into a helmet. Then I moved to another salon, recommended by friends, where I had the world’s most spectacularly incompetent highlighting experience – as she folded the foils into my hair, they were falling out again, drifting to the floor in silver swathes. Last year I found a fabulous hairdresser, but she fell in love with an English lad and moved to London.
So, to quote Zia, I loined my girdles and gave a different local salon a go. Happy me! We have blondeness! And at an extremely reasonable price, with friendly atmosphere, decent coffee and not too much chit-chat (I needed to focus on Anna Karenina, the trashy magazines and at one point, even have a little nap – because going to the hairdresser’s is just so relaxing).
In my heart of hearts, I know this longish, blondish thing is a stop-gap measure only. I have a dream hairstyle. I keep telling myself I can only have it when I lose five kilograms/turn forty/publish a book. It’s a style with gravitas, that says “you are a grown-up now”. It is a complete crop, in the style of Judi Dench. It would mean losing the tresses that have been with me – on and off – since childhood and the thought makes me anxious. Is my hair my security blanket? Would I feel too naked if I cropped it all off? Would I have to wash behind my ears a little more assidiously?
I remember going to a woman’s 40th birthday when I was still a student. It was a lunch for her female family members and friends. She was very slim and lovely, with a mane of dark hair. To this party, she wore an almost completely transparent white dress with nothing on underneath but a G-string. She looked stunning but also rather sad. I remember thinking, “When I’m forty, I want to have accepted the beginning of the aging process, and not be fighting it quite so nakedly.” Well, here I am brinking forty, and um, still highlighting my hair and wearing it long. It’s pretty darn girlish. It’s the hair equivalent of a see-through dress, Botox or a boob job.
I’ve had deep discussions with some girlfriends about the long hair/growing older thing and in principle I’ve agreed with them that long, grey hair can be lovely and elegant. Mine just wants to be really, really short. I just have to get up the courage to part with it.